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The Internet Government News

CRTC Mulls Canadian Content On the Internet 269

Posted by kdawson
from the home-grown dept.
PsiCTO writes "The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is going to weigh Internet content regulation — this could mean requiring some amount of Canadian content coming across Canadian pipes. The CRTC is akin to the FCC. They get that they can't 'regulate' the Internet, but are proposing to promote additional Canadian content in some way, as is currently done with radio and TV content. Likely they will discuss tax credits, subsidies, grants, or other traditional mechanisms. What do people think about this? Are there similar efforts, existing or proposed, in other countries?"
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CRTC Mulls Canadian Content On the Internet

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  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:23PM (#26890365)
    This is net neutrality in action. Once you hand over responsibility to the government, your service is only as good as those in power see fit. Internet censorship becomes a political whim, to be used when it is politically profitable for campaigns.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jetsci (1470207)
      Note: I work for the CRTC. They are not proposing influencing the content itself but rather the distribution. As mentioned in the article, we do it for radio and television and it ensures that local artists are not over-shadowed by our Southern counterparts.
      • by SemiSpook (1382311) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:45PM (#26890759)
        Oddly enough, Rick Moranis revealed that the Mackenzie Brothers skit tacked on to the tail end of every episode of SCTV fulfilled the CRTC requirement. If someone could figure a way to do that for 'net content, you'd be golden.
        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:50PM (#26890861) Journal

          It's a great story. When they started showing SCTV down in the States, the CRTC demanded that some extra time in every episode be Canadian in content. So, feeling that this was an insane and idiotic intrusion on the show, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas literally put a couch in front of a map of Canada, had a single cameraman rolling, and sat around being as stereotypical as possible beer-swilling inbred Ontario morons for the required number of minutes. Bob and Doug were nothing more than one big F--- You to the CRTC's Canadian content rules.

          • by adonoman (624929) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:53PM (#26890897)

            Actually, I think it was CBC, not the CRTC, that was pushing the Canadian content:

            The sketch was conceived when SCTV moved to the CBC television network. Each episode to be broadcast on that network was two minutes longer than those syndicated to the United States. The CBC network heads asked the show's producers to add specifically and identifiably Canadian content for those two minutes. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas thought that this was a ridiculous request, since the show had been taped in Canada, with a mostly Canadian cast and crew, for two years.

        • That's why I just tagged this story "takeoffyouhosers"....

        • Oddly enough, Rick Moranis revealed that the Mackenzie Brothers skit tacked on to the tail end of every episode of SCTV fulfilled the CRTC requirement. If someone could figure a way to do that for 'net content, you'd be golden.

          That's easy! Just set up the web server to append "Hecho en Canada/Fabre en Canada/Made in Canada/..." to the footer of every page served.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by supernova_hq (1014429)

            Actually, this raises my big question about how they are going to categorize "Canadian" content

            • About Canadian stuff.
            • Designed in Canada.
            • Paid for in Canada.
            • Hosted in Canada.
            • Tunneled through a connection in Canada.
            • Primarily viewed in Canada.

            With TV/Radio the question is not that hard to answer, but when you are talking about websites, it really gets kind of confusing.

            Now I didn't read the article, but the summary specifically says "Internet" not "Web." So what content does this apply to then?

            • Websites (HTTP/H
        • And it's on-topic, too (at least after 1:20). [youtube.com]

          When it comes to the Internet, though, I think this is completely wrong (as has probably been stated here). When we're watching TV, we can either watch the American channels, with 99% American programming, or the Canadian networks, with about 75% American programming. The Canadian shows will always end up on the Canadian channels. With the Intertubes, wouldn't we really just be choosing to watch American or Canadian content directly?
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:47PM (#26890807) Journal

        And how, pray tell, are you going to influence distribution? Are you going to set up massive filters at the borders to insert Canadian commercials like Starchoice and Bell Expressvu do with satellites (never was there a better justification for grey dishes than this unholy bit of interference)? Are you going to force foreign content providers to test for IP addresses to make sure Canadians are seeing the appropriate amount of Canadian content?

        There's a story about King Canute trying to hold back the tide. You guys at the CRTC should read it. The Internet is going to render Canadian content rules obsolete and unenforceable. You cannot force me to download Canadian content. The most you can do is abuse the CRTC's powers to up my Internet bill so some unaccountable board hands out welfare cheques to "artists".

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by finarfinjge (612748)
        You wrote:

        "Note: I work for the CRTC. They are not proposing influencing the content itself but rather the distribution."

        In either case, the nanny state is telling me what I can and cannot watch. Whether it is the content, that is direct cesorship, or the distribution, that is the ability to see what I want without "help" from the government (that is you), it is STILL censorship. It is, like all cancon laws, tarted up censorship.

        JE
        • by plover (150551) * on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:52PM (#26890889) Homepage Journal

          You wrote:

          "Note: I work for the CRTC. They are not proposing influencing the content itself but rather the distribution."

          In either case, the nanny province is telling me what I can and cannot watch. Whether it is the content, that is direct cesorship, or the distribution, that is the ability to see what I want without "help" from the government (that is you), it is STILL censorship. It is, like all cancon laws, tarted up censorship, eh.

          JE

          There, I Canuckified that for you. It's now compliant with the Canadian Content laws.

          • by armer (533337) <<glenn.vander.veer> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @02:24PM (#26891491)
            But you forgot to Canuckify your post eh, you hoser...
          • Actually, as others will probably point out to you, 'state' is still applicable. The Country of Canada would be 'the state' in this case, which has provinces.

            The 'eh' was funny, although grammatically incorrect.

          • You wrote:

            "Note: I work for the CRTC. They are not proposing influencing the content itself but rather the distribution."

            In either case, the nanny province is telling me what I can and cannot watch. Whether it is the content, that is direct cesorship, or the distribution, that is the ability to see what I want without "help" from the government (that is you), it is STILL censorship. It is, like all cancon laws, tarted up censorship, eh.

            JE

            There, I Canuckified that for you. It's now compliant with the Canadian Content laws.

            Actually, he was using "state" properly. He was using it in the sense of a nation, rather than a subentity in US style. For example, the US states technically were states in the normal sense only until they ratified the US Constitution currently in force (They were still independent states under the Articles of Confederation, by the way.)

        • by Rary (566291)

          I think the CRTC should leave this alone, but at the same time, this has nothing to do with censorship of any kind. It's about providing incentives to produce more content, not prevent you from seeing anything you want to see. Basically, this will have absolutely no effect on you. It will, however, benefit those producing Canadian content for the web.

          • by Tanktalus (794810)
            No effect on me? Really? And where will the money to pay for this come from? India?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            The CRTC are a bunch of hypocrites:

            "The Guild has recommended that local conventional stations get a portion of satellite and cable fees from subscribers in their area to pay for local programming, including news. It has also urged the CRTC to reintroduce a policy requiring local news from local broadcasters. "

            http://www.cmg.ca/newsresults.asp?ID=1177&BranchID=10&SubjectID=12 [www.cmg.ca]

            Rogers (cable) said this would add cost to consumers. In the end, Rogers upped their rates anyhow.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ahodgson (74077)

            Thousands of people are homeless and our medical system has 6-month waiting lists for surgery, but what we really need, clearly, is the government to pay for more horrible "content" on the freakin Internet.

            Holy balls. Get out of my wallet.

      • by zappepcs (820751)

        Damn, I thought the *AA, DOJ, and bad US lawyers were doing enough to stop US content from making it to EVERYONE's Internet, Canada included!

        If the original intent was to ensure that Canadian artists and industry were given a fair shake at fame and stardom and riches, isn't the Internet the wrong place to be mandating content? Content on Internet sites that have nothing to do with entertainment is not helping that particular group of artists. How can you mandate such content? Doesn't the .ca TLD do enough?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Feanturi (99866)
          I'm reasonably certain that even newfies know the difference between .com and .ca Yeah whatchya got dere bai is yer dot com dat's da reg'lar innernet, and ya gotchyer dot C-A dat's yer Canadian innernet. In Newfoundland though we just calls dat a cod trap, dat's da innernet inside da outernet.
        • Perhaps if you mandated that Canadian companies worked harder to produce content that Canadians wanted to download AND made it reasonably cost effective to do so...

          Hell, if they did that, the rest of the world might want to download Canadian content, too. They couldn't possibly want to unleash THAT menace upon the world! Oh! The humanity!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Note: I work for the CRTC.

        Then fuck you and the horse you rode in on. I don't need some government functionary telling me what I should and should not be watching. You tell me it is to save Canada's identity. What is the difference between that and the Quebec Language Police (don't laugh, they are real) who will fine and drive a company out of business in Quebec if they have the unbelievable gall to put English or any non-French word over their store front even if their clients are non-french! In a bilin

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:52PM (#26890891) Homepage

      This isn't net neutrality at all. This is a government agency requiring the exact opposite of net neutrality, namely the favoring of one kind of content over another. By the looks of things you're conflating "net neutrality" with "any government regulation of the Internet".

      • by brian0918 (638904)
        Apparently you didn't read my post, but only the subject line.
    • by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:57PM (#26890951)
      Hmmm on one side I hand over responsibility to an entity that I give money to work for me but doesn't, on the other side I hand over responsibility to an entity I give money to work for me but doesn't. Decisions, Decisions.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:23PM (#26890371) Journal

    So are we now going to get goverment subsidised canadian porn? For that matter, get the canadian goverment to ensure that canadian slashdot readers get the right percentage of canadian first posts?

    I don't know what they smoke in canada but it got to be good.

  • CanCon (Score:4, Informative)

    by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:23PM (#26890373)
    Canadian Content laws may be controversial, but there is no denying that it has helped Canadian art and artists flourish. Personally, I don't mind paying a few extra bucks each year on my tax return, if it means I get to live in a richer, more interesting society as a result.
    • Canadian Content laws may be controversial, but there is no denying that it has helped Canadian art and artists flourish.

      Or, in most cases, simply become yet another kind of welfare recipient.

      Personally, I don't mind paying a few extra bucks each year on my tax return, if it means I get to live in a richer, more interesting society as a result.

      Yes, because, after all, we're so much richer for my hard-earned tax dollars going to pay for Davinci's Inquest and King of Kensington reruns.

    • Re:CanCon (Score:5, Interesting)

      by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:33PM (#26890563) Homepage Journal

      It hasn't helped Canadian "art" flourish. Quite the opposite -- it's provided funding to drek that no one wants. Commercial art (i.e. TV and radio) needs to be competitive to survive, not propped up by tax dollars. Witness the CBC's abysmal ratings and lack of standout series for the past many years.

      An article I read this weekend explained that they're talking about Can-Con for foreign web broadcasters, including some TV channels that internet broadcast from the Phillipines. I don't think I've ever heard a more ludicrous thing -- demanding that foreign stations carry Canadian content!

      Rather than bleat about the competition, CBC could do like CTV and start internet broadcasting their series as streaming video. The only CanCon rules I support would be to mandate that Canadian content be internet-enabled so that it can compete. Navel-gazing demands on the content carried by foreign channels is pointless -- there is no way to enforce it and it would be considered as interference by the nations where those channels are based, and rightly so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0racle (667029)
      What it has helped is keeping people making complete crap under the guise of making 'good Canadian content' as opposed to reality hitting them square in the ass and giving them a clue that they suck.

      Worst government waste ever. Well, not the worst, but still a huge waste.
    • Tax funded CanCon (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qbzzt (11136)

      I don't think anybody would object to you paying a few extra bucks each year to a charity that produced Canadian content if you think that makes your society richer and more interesting.

      But do you really think Canadian content would die if Canadians weren't forced to pay for it? If not, why do you think it needs to be funded by taxes? If yes, doesn't it mean most of you don't think it's a worthwhile investment in your society?

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Wouldn't it be more direct to just, well, fund the artists? Why dance around with weird requirements when you can just cut checks?

    • I'm not sure Alanis Morisette qualifies as "+1 Interesting". Give me more of those crazy McKenzie brothers, though! It's aboot time we got them!
    • by geobeck (924637)

      ...but there is no denying that it has helped Canadian art and artists flourish.

      Artists like Bryan Adams, who the CRTC decided a few years ago did not qualify as Canadian content (in a particular context I can't recall) because he built his success in the US? Or maybe Lorne Michaels, Jim Carrey, William Shatner, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Meyers, Neil Young, Tom Cochrane, Randy Bachman, Bif Naked...

      There is no shortage of successful Canadian artists who aren't on a CRTC welfare program. And it's certainly no surpr

    • I can see why the CRTC is doing this, and it's not like pushing the CBC website is any worse than Microsoft making MSN the default search, home page, and RSS headline source.

      Of course, that doesn't make it a good idea. Are we really so afraid that Canadian artists will suddenly start to suck if we don't guarantee them an audience? In the age of YouTube, Google and Facebook, you're an idiot if you can't find yourself an audience and a way to pass the hat around.

      We don't need the CRTC. CBC could easily be a p

  • by wealthychef (584778) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:24PM (#26890391)
    What is special about "Canadian content" anyhow? The whole notion of nationalism needs to begin fading into the background. If there is something unique of value that the Canadian gov't brings to its citizens, fine, but an attempt to promote the Canadian brand by the government is not really useful in the big picture. If there is something great to publish, then there is no real barrier to its being published. This is just branding and it's a waste of time.
    • What is special about "Canadian content" anyhow?

      Quality cultural content [wikipedia.org]

    • by onkelonkel (560274) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:32PM (#26890553)
      I don't think you understand how vitally important this is. Without CanCon rules there would have been no Bryan Adams, no Alanis Morisette, no Avril Lavigne, no Celene Dion.

      OK, never mind.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721)

        The real irony here is that Canada has produced some major acts with little help from Canadian content rules. Rush has been since the late 1970s a major act, selling out arena tours, selling tons of records, while most of it has hardly ever gotten major air time in Canada or the States. The same goes for the Band, which pretty much relocated to the US, and during its heyday, was four-fifths Canadian, and yet is now seen as being one of the most important rock and roll bands of the last half century.

      • by Tipa (881911)

        Blue Oyster Cult sigs FTW. That's all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We live in a predominantly capitalist society.

      Canada has about 30 million consumers, and the US has about 300 million.

      Even among Canadians there are many distinct cultures that are truly Canadian.

      But attempts to produce content that appeals to any fraction of Canadians can quickly get drowned out by whatever drivel all the US teenagers are interested it.

      As far as North America is concerned, Canadians are a minority, and the government is trying to do it's part to make sure that the minority voice is loud en

      • But attempts to produce content that appeals to any fraction of Canadians can quickly get drowned out by whatever drivel all the Canadian teenagers are interested it.

        There, fixed that for ya.

      • by cyriustek (851451) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @02:17PM (#26891343)

        Canada clearly has a distinct culture, that many of its people want to preserve. However, it does seem that some Canadians do go a bit overboard with it.

        When traveling across Europe, or Australia or NZ, it is quite easy to pick the Canadians out. It seems that a very large percentage keep a Maple leaf somewhere on their body or clothing. Evidently, they do not like people assuming that they are Americans due to their accent, so they over compensate.

        Since many people have noticed this attitude from Canadians, they usually will not ask someone if they are American if they meet them, so as to avoid offending the Canadians. Instead, they inquire whether one is from Canada, since it seems rare for an American to be insulted by this question.

        I think this is a little like a little brother / big brother rivalry. Although Canada is large geographically, it clearly does not have the population of the USA. As such, there is not a concerted effort of Americans trying to implement imperialism over Canada, it just happens due to the numbers. We can see similar examples of this in NZ and Australia. Another example would be Wales and England.

        I cannot blame Canadians for trying to get their culture out there. However, going overboard just makes one look a bit silly.

        • by aok (5389) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @03:42PM (#26893071)

          I wonder how many of those people proudly wearing the maple leaf are actually Americans? While traveling in Europe about 6-7 years ago, I met around four people outside bars and restaurants who were Americans pretending to be Canadians. At this point, I just assume anyone wearing a Canadian flag on them is really just an American in disguise :)

        • by mewsenews (251487) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @06:26PM (#26895627) Homepage

          When traveling across Europe, or Australia or NZ, it is quite easy to pick the Canadians out. It seems that a very large percentage keep a Maple leaf somewhere on their body or clothing. Evidently, they do not like people assuming that they are Americans due to their accent, so they over compensate.

          1. How is wearing a maple leaf overcompensating for a reasonable problem?
          2. How many of those folks wearing a maple leaf are Americans who don't like people assuming that they are Americans?

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Oh yes, the pop culture crap that America produces. As opposed to artistic geniuses like Avril Lavigne, Byran Adams, Celine Dion, etc. Face it, if the good taste revolution ever comes, you'll be up against he wall even faster than the U.S.
    • I don't really agree.

      Canada's system of government is (and probably needs to be) Parliamentary system, Westminster-style. The nonsense with the Newfoundland delegates being allowed to vote for their constituent's interest, and the whole debacle about the coalition government a few months back illustrate how far we've gotten from this -- most people are apparently not even aware of what constitutes a government in Canada.

      CRTC's biggest challenge is in mirroring this representation domestically, not bra
  • Global (Score:3, Interesting)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:28PM (#26890483)
    As a Canadian, I'm ashamed that our tax dollars are being wasted like this. The WORLD WIDE web is GLOBAL. Attempting to enforce (or even encourage) Canadian content on the WORLD WIDE web is simply stupid. Even with their alternate methods (tax credits, subsidies, grants, etc.), it's simply stupid. I have troubles supporting CanCon on radio and TV but on the WORLD WIDE web? Nah. That's just a waste of time and money.
    • Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xest (935314)

      I'd argue that it's one of the few things we here in Britain have going for us nowadays- the BBC.

      The BBC produces some excellent content and shares it worldwide such as Planet Earth and gets involved in various co-productions with foreign companies such as HBO in the US. Some people love BBC news, others hate it but overall the BBC is a top notch content producer when it comes to (lots of people love Top Gear, Doctor Who etc.).

      The situation with the BBC isn't quite the same as that described but it is simil

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:29PM (#26890487) Journal

    Of course this sort of thing exists in other countries, at least for broadcast media. France, for example, has quotas on both television and radio content. [nytimes.com]

    I'm not sure that it makes as much sense for the Internet, though. The French idea is that you have limited broadcast time, and without a quota, they'd be playing American music and television shows 24/7. Maybe that makes sense, but with the Internet, you don't have the same broadcasting limits. People choose what they want to listen to with ease, actively seeking out their preferred content from any number of sources.

    They can promote domestic content all they want, and it might even be a good thing, but it's not going to have the same "cultural preservation" effects as with broadcast media.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721)

      The general idea seems now to be focusing on levies. In other words, there's no way to force Canadians to watch and listen to more Canadian content on the Internet, so instead we'll simply further entrench the artistic welfare. It should lead to delightful situations where a TV show gets no more than a few thousand viewers, but gets topped up from the levy.

      Initiatives like this are why so much Canadian content is nothing but mediocre trash with horrible production values, terrible actors, terrible writers

  • by Strike Fiss (167449) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:34PM (#26890581)

    If the CRTC wants to encourage Canadian Content on the net, maybe they could lobby Ottawa to create tax breaks for using local companies and carbon-footprint shrinking solutions. I just recently changed my host to a Canadian provider who uses Green Energy for their datacentre and I feel pretty happy about that. I suspect plenty of personal and professional Canadian users would do the same if there was even the most reasonable incentive to do so given out by the Gov.

    And best thing about this plan: it wouldn't even require 1 out of every 100 homepages to be an Alanis Morsette or Celine Dion tribute page. (thank God...)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let me translate this for you:

    Dear Canadian-based content providers....

    We in the government would like very much if you would kindly move your servers and business operations to another country, and create a holding company that remains in Canada to distribute the income from the foreign operations.

    We of course, will not make you do this, so we are now adopting regulations to make it very clear that we really want you to do it.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  • Great.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by maddskillz (207500) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:53PM (#26890915)

    I hope this doesn't mean they expect me to download nickleback mp3's

  • The real story here is that there's Canadian content on the internet.

  • They've been there before, where they concluded the whole exercise would be pointless. They will look at it again now, where they will decide the whole exercise is currently pointless. And then they will move to look at it again, in the future, in case something changes in the meantime. That's what these kinds of regulators do.

    If anyone doubts any of the above, may I point out that they have in the last year refused to address Net Neutrality and Traffic Shaping, leaving it to remain wholly unregulated. Whic

  • rtard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @03:03PM (#26892255)

    Stupid Stupid idea.

    Mandatory Canadian content in Radio and TV are also stupid ideas.

    I understand the reason. We Canadians are BOMBARDED by US culture, radio, tv, etc... I see the need to have some Canadian identity in there.

    However they are going about it all wrong. I know some radio has a hard time meeting the content quota, and what happens is a lot of the same crappy songs get played, really only because they are Canadian. This isn't what we should be promoting.

    What we should be doing is having programs and money from government to sponsor the arts. The rest will follow.

    On top of that, the internet is much different than radio and TV and it makes even less sense in this context.

  • Since much of what people download is smut, I encourage my fellow Canucks to work on lots of HoserPorn.

    Toques, boots and perky nipples, oh my!

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